October 12, 2022


According to a study released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many operators of semi-automatic motor vehicles drive as if their autos are fully automatic, despite the accident risks of doing so.

The study, based on a survey of 600 users of Cadillac’s Super Cruise system, Nissan/Infiniti’s ProPilot system and Tesla’s Autopilot system, found that drivers were able to engage in non-driving activities, such as eating or texting, while using Driver Assistance. were more likely. system

On top of that, more than half of Super Cruise drivers (52%), two in five Autopilot drivers (42%), and 12% of ProPilot drivers told surveyors they were comfortable treating their vehicles as full self-driving autos. Were.

“The big picture message here is that early adopters of these systems still have a poor understanding of the technology’s limitations,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement.

“It’s possible that systems design and marketing are compounding these misconceptions,” he said.

understanding the gap

IIHS is not alone in finding gaps in consumer understanding of the capabilities of driver-assistance technology. Studies by JD Power, a consumer research, data and analytics firm based in Troy, Mich., have yielded similar results.

“We found that 56% of consumers classify the driver-assisted technology available today as fully automated self-driving,” said Lisa Burr, JDP’s senior manager of auto benchmarking and mobility development.

“It’s worrying because we know today those systems are there to assist the driver,” she told TechNewsWorld. “The driver still has overall responsibility for the vehicle.”

IIHS explained that current partial automation systems assist drivers through adaptive cruise control — which can control speed to maintain a safe distance behind a vehicle — and lane centering, which allows a vehicle to navigate its travel lane. Keeps it focused.

It noted that existing systems are not designed to make it safe for human drivers to replace or perform other tasks that may divert their attention from the road. Track tests and real-world accidents have provided ample evidence that systems struggle to recognize and respond to normal driving conditions and road features.

marketing promotion

One factor contributing to consumer misconceptions about the capabilities of computer-assisted driving systems may be marketing.

“Tesla, the way they’ve marketed autopilot over the years and Elon Musk talked about autopilot, has created the impression that these types of systems are far more capable than they really are,” head of E. Analyst Sam Abulesmid said. –Mobility at Guidehouse Insights, a market intelligence company in Detroit.

“Since Musk has been projected as a genius by a lot of people in the media, people are inclined to believe him, even if everything he says is bullshit,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Mike Ramsey, Gartner’s vice president and analyst for automotive and smart mobility, agreed that marketing has played a role in consumer expectations about driver assistance systems. “Tesla names their system Autopilot, which means the vehicle will fly by itself,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It is implied that the vehicle is driving itself,” he said. “It’s not really driving itself. It’s essentially cruise control with added functionality.”

some supervision required

The way these systems are designed, they do not place firm limits on driver behavior, so drivers do not know what they can and cannot do, observed IIHS research scientist and report author Alexandra Muller.

“It adds to the confusion,” she told TechNewsWorld. “These systems seem highly capable – and they are – but their capabilities are not a replacement for a driver. This message seems to have been lost.”

“These systems are not self-driving,” she said. “They often encounter situations that require driver intervention.”

Müller maintained the idea that drivers always have to be ready to intervene and be prepared to monitor these systems is not something humans are very good at doing. “We’re not very good at monitoring and maintaining a vigil to monitor what these technologies are doing constantly,” she said.

“The more capable these systems are, the more difficult it is to monitor them because the driver is no longer physically involved in the operation of the vehicle,” she continued.

“It’s natural that people would want to do other things to stay alert, but doing anything other than driving means the driver is no longer involved in driving the vehicle.”

distracted driver

If there’s one thing humans aren’t good at, it’s overseeing automation, Abuelsamid argued. “Whenever something is working most of the time, man becomes complacent,” he said.

“It’s hard to stay mentally engaged in a job you’re not physically engaged in,” he said. “By allowing the driver to be hands-free, you’re reducing some of the traditional driver workload, but you’re creating new cognitive workloads for the brain.”

“No one has figured out how to address it,” he said. “Maybe nothing short of full automation is a good idea.”

Driver-assistive systems can be an invitation to distracted driving. “If you tell consumers they can take their hand off the steering wheel and take their foot off the pedals and the vehicle will self-powered, you’re inviting them to ignore,” Ramsey said.

On the other hand, he pointed out that even without these systems, distracted drivers are everywhere. “People are already driving distracted by their phones, so these technologies have become essential to prevent accidents,” he said. “Systems are already accommodating to existing distractions.”

need for better communication

Burr said the auto industry needs a better way to communicate with consumers about the capabilities of driver-assistance systems. “We cannot continue to rely on the dealer’s or owner’s manual,” she said.

“No part of the automotive industry can do this alone,” he continued. “Automakers play an important role in this, but as a whole, consumers are not distinguishing between these levels of automation.”

“It is important for the industry as a whole to provide many learning opportunities to close this gap,” he said.

Abuelsamid advocates adding an active driver monitoring system to ensure drivers are attentive to road conditions while the driver-assistance system is activated.

“Knowing what the limits of a system are and putting systems in place to reduce the potential for customer abuse is really important,” he warned.